My daughter is 12—still seven months away from her birthday—yet acquaintances have been going out of their way to warn me about the teen years. Elizabeth Lauten's now famous-Facebook post that criticized the appearance and behavior of the First Daughters also took a swipe at all teens. You might recall that her rant started out as, "I get you're both in those awful teen years, but..."
I'm not so foolish to think that teaching my daughter how to drive, dealing the pressure of the SATs and college application letters, or helping her navigate boyfriend drama won't be stressful. But come to think of it so were potty-training, separation anxiety, and the science fair. As for behavior, I'll take eye-rolling over throwing herself on the ground in the middle of Target any day. And while I likely won't prefer everything she wears and watches (Miranda Sings, you know who you are!), I didn't when she was five either.
In the midst of thinking about all this, I ran across an interesting article today in my newsfeed about the teenage brain. Researchers from three major U.S. universities studied 40 kids ages 11 to 17. In the study, the kids listened to an audio clip of their own mothers saying, "One thing that bothers me about you is that you get upset over minor issues. I could tell you to take your shoes from downstairs. You'll get mad that you have to pick them up and actually walk upstairs and put them in your room." During criticism and for little while afterwards, researchers found that the pre-teens and teens had reduced activity in the areas relating emotional control and empathy. In other words, their brain starts shutting down, which helps explain why they tend to be maddeningly unresponsive while you're being critical. So maybe it's biological...not defiance.